3 Ways to Build Momentum for 2019 and Beyond
The pace of technological innovation puts unique pressures on value-added resellers and managed service providers. New technologies, the growth of cloud services, and budget and resource limitations are driving businesses to rely more heavily on their trusted channel partners for support. While this is good news for those VARs and MSPs, it also means they have to stay on the cutting edge of the industry to continue to provide value to their customers.
How can VARs and MSPs support the needs of existing customers and acquire new ones, while maintaining and improving profitability in an ecosystem in flux? There’s no simple answer – but during my experience at WatchGuard I have seen three key pillars that contribute to partner success and profitability. In this column, I’ll cover these pillars as they apply to the IT solutions providers I’ve worked with specifically, but keep in mind that these focus areas extend to all segments of the IT channel.
Here are the key areas channel partners need to focus on for a more fruitful 2019:
Innovation at Speed
Gone are the days when IT solutions providers could wait months or even years to realize the tangible gains from new vendor technology. These days, IT solutions providers need near-immediate results, as the success or failure of new products and services depends on their ability to quickly bring value to the market. Today, it’s all about agility. It’s about reducing the time, resources and costs associated with deploying a new product or service that solves real-world customer requirements – from envisioning to developing, testing and launching. Succeed or fail fast. Iterate. Repeat.
This means IT solution providers need to respond quickly to the needs of their customers, and work with vendors who share this agile, fast-paced approach. IT teams today face dramatically different challenges than they did 10, or even five years ago, such as more complex IT environments, more demanding end-user needs, and a security threat landscape that continues to evolve at a faster rate. If the products and services you’re offering haven’t evolved along with your customers, you’ll be left behind.
Take the security market, for example. Ransomware was a major focus for cybercriminals in 2016 and 2017, so in response, IT solution providers incorporated technologies and services that addressed customers’ urgent need to prevent, detect and remediate these cyberthreats. As the threat landscape continues to shift and transform, we’ll see attackers use advanced tactics such as packing, polymorphism and more to design even better ways to disguise attacks, infiltrate networks and avoid detection. With the constant stream of emerging threats bombarding organizations of all sizes, it’s critical for IT solutions providers to constantly look ahead, anticipating potential customer challenges and how to proactively address them. IT solution providers who quickly integrate cutting-edge technologies, like machine learning and artificial intelligence-enabled defenses, for instance, provide significantly more value for their customers.
Embracing New Business Models
The traditional channel business model of shipping, delivering and providing technical support for products also is evolving rapidly. While businesses are achieving success with traditional operational models, leadership across IT solution providers must take a step back and consider if they’re bringing the greatest value, customer engagement, and profitbability by adopting new approaches.
For example, look at the managed-service-provider model. Unlike organizations who function solely as resellers or distributors of security products, MSPs earn additional recurring revenue by …